Barbel Articles 1 - 4

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
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Part 1 - Barbel Behaviour

Firstly I will like to take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself. My name is Richard Easom and I was born in Nottingham on September the 4th 1979. From the age of five I have been a keen angler and recently become a very serious Barbel angler. I love football also, Nottingham Forest are my club and even though I am Forest till I die, it comes secondary to my passion and enthusiasm for fishing. This is how I began to get interested in fish behaviour and more notably in relation to this forum and why you are reading, the Barbel.

At the age of sixteen I took a great interest in fish that were in my tank at home, goldfish to be precise watching and observing their behaviour in regards to food and feeding time (They know when it is by the second), hours were spent doing this and for no other reason than I was just interested or engrossed at what was happening at the bottom of my tank, call me a geek if you like.

A lot of what I will write in this article started from that tank and moved on to the wonderful wild rivers our country is famous for and the general coarse fish in contained.

At the age of Twenty I started out my Barbel fishing career if you like. I started on the middle Trent and to this day nothing much has changed apart from the way I approach the fish. I caught a Barbel on my first session and was totally chuffed, nothing big just a five pounder but to me it was a double, bigger even. I loved the awesome fight, nothing like any Carp I had caught before, the sheer strength of the fish made me respect the Barbel as the king of the river and one I wanted to learn more about. I started off using Carp rigs, combi-links etc and of course they worked but I later learned this wasnt due to my advanced Carp rigs that fooled the Barbel.

Years past fishing for Barbel and the more I learned from other Barbel anglers the more I realised the rigs I was using had no place in Barbel fishing nor did the way I approached them, sitting there hoping, praying sometimes crying for something to happen on my rod tip. I became a serial blanker, time after time I sat there in the same spot for me to blank.again!

At the age of 26 I became obsessed with Barbel, so much more than any other fish I have studied and I decided to start understanding and observing so that I could gain knowledge I needed to first, catch more fish generally but ultimately put the doubles on the bank. Since then I have had numerous doubles to 14 Lb which is currently my PB but I will smash that this season.

So became the first process of many stages, Barbel Behaviour.
I began a journey to Norwich and the River Wensum to do some fishing and to start the first process in the shallows where Barbel were present and then onto the Trent for later analysis. Now to go through every stage and every day I tested or examined Barbel it would take a book of mammoth proportions and thats not what I want to do here, as it would be boring to read. I just want to go through my findings and conclusions and then I am open to criticism.

I began by feeding pellets well upstream from the fish and watching them as they fell and hit the bottom, the pellets began to wonder off downstream bouncing on rocks etc, the current was strong so I guess this was to be expected, whilst following these 4mm pellets they began to break down and leave a dust as pieces broke off from the main pellet. The dust/pellet pieces began whizzing downstream which I followed for around 80 or so yards to where a group of small Barbel and Chub were laying.

The Chub greedy fish that they are started to stir and their mouths began to go ten to a dozen, a sure sign they have been alerted by something and are on the feed and actively looking for it. I was not aware of any Chub actually taking any of the pieces and the Barbel never even stirred. I went back to where I fed and began the process again, this time however the Chub were ready and aware and began feeding with fury, initially two, then two more from behind a bush turned up and joined the other two.

So the process was started again and to my amazement I followed it down only 60 yards and the four Chub were there, I was taken aback initially so I walked to where the Chub were at the start of the process and nope nowhere to be seen except for the three Barbel, dorment. I found this incredibly exciting they were following the source, all four of them. What now I thought? Great the Chub are ravenous but what about the Barbel? I considered doing something different but I eventually decided to keep doing what I was doing, trying to re-create a stick float situation where youll feed little and often and bring the fish in!

So the process continued and with each handful of pellets the Chub got closer and closer until they were literally right there where I was throwing the Pellets. By this time Im thinking this is fantastic, they were so confident I could have put my hand in and they would have fed out of it I am sure. Of course I didnt do this, I kept feeding the little pellets and after an hour of this I forgot about the Barbel so I went to where I first saw them, guess what? No sign. Where the hell are they?! Did they get spooked? Did they move on? Many thoughts went through my head, why did they not do what the Chub did? So I went back to feeding the Chub but I changed the amount I threw in because they were havin it so to speak. So two handfuls of pellets and hemp after hemp (Full catty) in the catapult every 3 to 4 minutes. Well now things are changing the Chub are beginning to slow down (Pellets and hemp are getting them full if there is such a thing with Chub), and pellets are again getting through downstream.

So back along to the start where I had saw the Barbel, I go to see if the Barbel have returned, nope!
Now comes the time where I am wondering what I did or did not do to make that group of Barbel not feed, even a little bit, the day itself was not conducive to Barbel, bright, sunny, hot and no breeze to speak of. So I found it odd that the Chub were really having it and the Barbel, dorment. These conditions are usually bad for any fish but the Chub were ravenous. I kept feeding until the Chub were just not taking any more, they vanished! 3 hours into the process I felt I learnt lots but not on the fish I wanted to learn about, I never had chance.

I kept the feed going in and decided to walk along the margins where the bait was going through and low and behold theres four to five Barbel under a tree, the smaller one intercepting the pellets and hemp getting washed down in the flow. I then started to wonder how long they were there. Id been feeding at least an hour stepped up every 3 4 minutes. Last time I went to see if any Barbel were present I went to where they were at the start of the process, I honestly didnt think they would move up towards the bait, I honestly believed they were backing off as they had vanished.

It was definitely the same Barbel but one or two more had joined the group and 20 to 30 yards further upstream towards the source. Okay now were in business I kept on feeding following them down and observing what they did, wellI thought it was bizarre, the smallest Barbel in the group would take a couple of pellets turn and spook off downstream, whats this all about I thought? Has he seen me? The rest of the Barbel? Well they just sat there in the flow. I kept the process up and they were not touching it, after 15 minutes the one that had spooked came back and began feeding, this time a little more than before. Weird, this time not spooking just taking some pellets and hemp and waiting for the next batch to come through the swim, each time taking a little more while the others just watched on, lol.

After thirty or so more minutes the bigger Barbel began to become interested and for what was literally Five minutes they were going mad on the bait, then as quick as the frenzy started it stopped, the fish hardly moving from the margin or from under the tree the whole time (just the small Barbel once or twice). They wasnt prepared to move to it but were quite prepared in a Five minute madness spell of feeding to take free offerings that past their line of vision, almost mid water. Why? I took a look at the sky and ask myself is this the weather thats conducive to Barbel? Well No it isnt so the Barbel are wary of the bait and are not happy to feed unless its under cover and then before they become competitive they will send the smallest one out first to test its all clear.

This spookiness and reaction of Barbel is not because they remember being caught on this bait or they think a line and hook are attached, its due to weather conditions and how they feed generally on this type of weather. It wouldnt matter if they had never been caught before, for all I know they probably havent. Its just something within the elements of the weather that made them cautious. So people dont ever think its your rigs or line, Barbel are not bothered by line or whatever they just dont like not seeing it and being spooked when touching it with their fins. I heard Bob Roberts mention this recently, but I knew this already from my tests.

What that test does tell me is that during these type of days look for overhanging trees or some place in the shade, the feature could be underwater also like streamer weed. You may want to think about the way your line lays and from what side. Barbel passing through your line i.e. approaching your lead first gives the Barbel more chance to catch their fins on it thus removing the pack/shoal in lightening quick fashion. However one exception to this rule is when Barbel are ravenous they couldn't care less what hits their fins they just want the food, and every time you go fishing that is the environment you need to try and create for Barbel, to have the best results. To do this and to stand the best chance you need to feed.. In small shallow rivers this is common, one quick thud of the rod tip and then nothing for hours, Barbel are not clever but when they are frightened by something they cannot see they will not return for a while, one out all out.

Whilst in rivers such as the Trent the Barbel will approach bait from all angles and whilst its deeper in parts theres less chance of this happening. Pinning the rig down can help when its clear but in shallower swims when you can actually see them then its always best to position your feeder upstream of the feeding fish.

I have done testing and experiments on hot sunny days for years and I thought I would use this particular day in my article purely so you can understand yourself in the hardest possible form. If the water is clear and the sky is too then Barbel will 90% of the time feed in the way I have described. What Barbel lack in eyesight they make up for in smell and scent glands, its like humans really, you can have a blind man who can hear ten times better than you or I and vice-versa.

On overcast and mild days with colour in the water say a good 2ft and running off will see the best Barbel conditions (especially if that extra water is warm) they will follow the Chub to the source but it works in a sequence, in an order if you like. The Chub renowned for being the pigs of the river will nine times out of ten feed first, followed by the Barbels foot soldiers aka the smallest Barbel of the group, they use this Barbel as the guinea pig, not because they are wary but because their make-up design them that way no matter how conducive the conditions. While the smallest Barbel takes bait regular the bigger Barbel wait behind until they have seen enough and almost fight, bully the smaller ones out the way.

Many top Barbel anglers believe feeding for 3 hours consistently in perfect Barbel conditions gives you the best chance of landing the biggest in the shoal and I personally go along with this theory. You must always keep the feed going in and dont stop, pellets and hemp dont stick around for long enough in your swim (unless its full of boulders) for you to be able to do that. People think even in a steady flow that bait will sit near your lovely presented Pellet all day, WRONG!

The pellets or hemp are only useful for as long as they are in your swim and then you need to top up again. You need to keep those fish downstream interested so they can/will follow it, this is usually 5 to 10 minutes depending on flow. No point sticking a PVA stick out full of pellets and leaving it, it is simply not going to stay there and any Barbel that could be interested downstream will not find the source easily from one lot of bait. You have to pull them to you. Its like tempting Pike with a lure they will follow it because its bait and sometimes take it very close to the bank after following it for 40 or so yards the same applies when Barbel fishing, but its a steady process not a quick one.

My conclusion after many tests on Barbel behaviour is exactly this:

1) Barbel will communicate with one another if they brush your line theyll let the others know very quickly.

2) Dont get bogged down with rigs even in very hot and sunny days, sometimes its more about the bait your using as oppose to your line or rigs.
3) Use long hook lengths up to 6ft to target the Barbel in clear and hot conditions.

4) Look for shade, if not shade the deepest part of the river, light devalues the deeper you get.

5) Keep rigs simple, running feeder and no shiny swivels when its sunny and very clear water.

6) KEEP THE BAIT GOING IN!!! Just because youve sat there bite less for an hour it doesnt mean they are not eating what youre putting in, keep it working by casting out very regular to get those fish homing in on your bait.

7) If you can catch fish on the hottest days, on the coldest days and when not conducive conditions youll catch Barbel at any other time as well. You learn more from the bad days fishing then you do from a good one.

8) Barbel will openly feed right on top of the feeder landing and not care less about it, if you have them going on the feed you could wave a stick at them and they wouldnt care less. Thats why in good Barbel conditions they will be onto bait within half an hour so if your not catching move.

9) The roving approach works best for Barbel but I have found fishing static when good conditions prevail the Barbel will come to you, and quickly. In very hot days they wont move much (20 yards at most and then it will be a station) but still feed in small proportions and at certain times of the day.

10) This is very important and have found it invaluable and will bring me onto my next article My tactics and methods. Get your bait acting as natural as possible, meaning like a freebie, fish are used to intercepting like this in strong to medium flows and to get your bait acting in this way will give you a massive edge as I will explain in my next article.

11) And lastly If you find Chub you generally find Barbel just behind!

I hope I have helped at least one of you out there and given you food for thought, many anglers may already know all this about their favourite fish after all your all on a Barbel forum because of that reason. But there may just be some novices that need that little bit of help and I hope it would appeal to you and may give the more experienced lads something small. I can live with that.

Thanks for reading.

Part 2 - My Methods And Rigs

So in the first part we looked at Barbel Behaviour and the way that effects your fishing when fishing for them on many different variants of weather.

In this part we look at the tactics or for want of a better word Presentation that will no doubt catch you fish no matter where you go, if they are there this presentation will catch them. Although I am quite excited to explain this to you, I am also aware that the secret for the majority of you will be out.

There are no pics as yet to explain in full detail but they will be included when I get back to Nottingham at the end of July, as currently I am in Scotland.

If anyone would like to know more PM me as I am happy to help and will explain any presentations I detail in this part. Furthermore I will give you all the help I could give you on how and when to use it, although most of that will be covered in this article.

Just thought Id share that with you in case I may miss something.
Well we spoke in the last article how Barbel feed and their natural way of doing this, often intercepting food items or morsels that pass by their line of vision, I can honestly say this is the way they naturally feed. On running water they often sit on the Gravel intercepting food whizzing past, as soon as you continue the process, there becomes too much competition and then they will feel as though they need to get closer to get the most food.

We spoke that the environment in which you try and need to re-create are these exact scenarios. Barbel will feed most of the time on or near the bottom, thats not to say at some points through the day, and you have them competing enough that you cant catch them on top. Im not being funny here, try floating pellets sometimes and you can have some luck if they are wanting it enough.

Many people have you believe that Barbel will just feed on the bottom but I can say this to you that anything suspended (Gave it away too early there) will not be rejected as often as ones that are not. I have done lots of tests where Barbel for whatever reason will spit out a pellet or anything else, and spook and take the others with it then feed around my bait often past it on their return fifteen minutes later. I looked at why this was happening, (I was thinking this must happen a lot and you just dont know, judging by the Korda videos that theory must be correct) so I set about trying to change it.

Unlike Carp which I believe have many ways to reject or spit out bait and often do, Barbel only ever do it for two or three reasons. Barbel will often be discouraged from taking your bait because of the way it looks compared to the offerings that are around it. (Thanks FishandChips for the spot) Not because its a different size or colour but maybe its because its not acting like the others and sense something isn't right and spit it out. You have to look at it like this, a cat will play with string if you move it and a dog will play with a ball if you throw it, why? Well this is because in their environment that is how they hunt food or play, mice etc. Fish are no exception to this rule, Barbel only have one thing on their minds and that is food when the weather, water temperature etc are all conducive to good Barbel fishing. Cats will not often play with a ball of string if it is just sat there they prefer it moving, so logic should tell you that Barbel and indeed any fish in general will prefer movement to a static one. Most fish do hunt in this way its a natural cycle but some fish like Pike, Perch and Zander do it more aggressively. Have any of you actually thought about the natural movement of a pellet in a moving water? It bounces along the gravel getting washed downstream, bounces on stones or rocks and generally looks normal, but now look at your presentation, is the way you have presented your bait the same way those free offerings move?

I have caught on a bait in an eddy/backwater where its been sat there around pellets that are moving about in the current, we all have but how many times has that very bait been rejected by Barbel beforehand, let me tell you
On my tests I have used Braid (Dont spook Barbel) which I believe to the people I have spoken to may look like a piece of weed compared to a Fluoro that is very stiff (Can look unnatural) and Barbel cannot see so surprise and spook factor is always there. Both of these reasons are reason enough for me, judging by their behaviour to it, to not use it unless Im testing.

I have been witness on several occasions where Barbel will immediately take notice of my bait as it hits the water to wait until it settles and take the free offerings in my feeder that are coming out at the rate of knots to just leave my lovely bait sitting there. They always seem to know where the bait is that as hooks attached to it dont they? In most cases WRONG!

When however Barbel are ravenous there would be fury on or near the bottom all competing and your bait will be rejected four or five times in a two minute feeding spell and when it is taken its usually when the bait has been suspended/disrupted with all the commotion on or near the bottom. This is not the case all the time but generally when its taken on the bottom its when they are so focussed on food that their inhibitions are just none existent.

Conclusion to this is Barbel dont know what bait has the hook on or near it except for when they can see it like in very good water and sky visibility conditions if at all they just sense there is something not right with it, whereas the free offerings well, they act naturally dont they? Theres nothing attached to make it look unnatural. Why are baits rejected? Well its all down to the same reason.

I set about trying to change this action on Barbel to make my presentation look like or act like that of a free offering and not something blatant and easy to spot as the red flag being waved over my rig. After many ideas and testing a DVD gave me food for thought, I wont name it but if you have seen it then youll know what Im talking about after. This rig or presentation was a light at the end of a dark tunnel. In terms of testing its something I never contemplated which cut my testing down on this part to a fraction of what it could have been in terms of hours trying to re-create something that to me at the time seemed impossible. The answer came in this DVD although not much was made from it at the time by the two men on the DVD it was revelation to me. Then came the pop-up!!
To people who are new to this may think, is this guy mad, a pop-up on a river, a fast river? Well yes I am mad, but I am not wrong. Once arrived at testing stage I knew this was the answer....it worked!
Barbel would not think twice about it, and it offered little or no rejection. What I had tried to create is a situation just like that of a boilie or pellet in a flow, since then I have moved on to other baits and popping those up like worms which is simply devastating and cheese paste within a small cork ball. I cannot stress enough how much this has improved my rate of catching and hooking efficiency.
I cannot take responsibility for the rig or presentation but not everyone would have seen the DVD in question which is why I want to talk about it. The boilie or whatever will be taken by Chub also but is often rejected by them, why I dont know as my studies with Chub are limited but Barbel take this presentation no problem at all 95% of the time. It has been the best presentation I have come up with and the only one that nails fish bottom lip every time. On some days when testing this rig the hooking fish to actually fish mouthing the bait was ten out of ten, it worked out that 95% of fish would be hooked on this presentation and in the same way (bottom lip) when used in conjunction with a normal pellet or boilie fished on a hair-rig.

I am working on the same sort of rig but a fixed lead incorporating a Cascade swivel, a part of the sea fishermens armoury, that will once tested will travel from source (feeder) to 3 to 6ft past it. Just like the pellets in your feeder act and make it slowly work down and hopefully nailing them on its way downstream. Just like float fishing on a feeder if you like, youll be the first to see it when its finished. With the other pellets flying past the Barbel they will think this is normal. However not testing it completely yet gives me no statistics to base any facts and figures to you, and whether it will actually work so I wont describe that in this article.

I will however describe this rig I can base figures around and one that has improved my catch rate enormously. Again I am not responsible for this rig but I am responsible for testing it I guess.

I use 15lb mono line (Gr60 clear) but from the ring swivel you will see that Fisky has created a 6 inches to 4 foot hook lengths. This is where you must stop. Instead I will reach for Drennan Sinkbraid in 15Lbs (This strength helps slightly with any abrasion you may get as the braid is not coated) and pull off 3 to 4ft. Once you have done this make a loop at the end of the braid and incorporate a Korda Kwik Link. At the other end tie a Kamasan B175 long shank hook to your braid with your favourite knot. Then you grab a pop-up, I use a 14mm Bio Crab, shave it down on one side then create a ridge with an hacksaw blade into the boilie and I will place glue into it and then place my hook along the shank inside of it and place more glue on top. This will then keep your hook and shaved boilie together on the hook. About an inch from the hook I place an AA or a BB (depending on flow) shot to create a situation where it is just sitting off the bottom and thus acting like a normal free offering.

Why it works I have covered in most parts, how it works, well....Because the hook and bait is suspended and stopped via the shot the Barbel will come along and mouth the bait, once they do this the hook point is facing down onto their bottom lip, they realise its an hook and swim back thus nailing them bottom lip every time.

Since testing and validating the presentation and as I have said earlier I have used Lobworms with air injected into them on an hair-rig with devastating results for Barbel, Slugs and Snails (shells off of course) also. I usually have one rig presented on the boilie method and one on the Lobworm or slug, the reason for this is because I believe Barbel will either feed on a natural food source or a commercially developed one that anglers use all year round, what they dont often see however is the way I present it to them.

I have literally done this with lots of different things and they all work. The best results in my opinion come on the boilie and Lobworm (air injected) on a one to two inch hair. If you can present bait exactly like the boilie method then you need to do this as it offers better hook efficiency. This is a fantastic presentation and one that will definitely put more fish on the bank, including doubles. You may want to try White boilies also Proper Job Pop-Ups do a brilliant Squid & Octopus in 15mm and theyve been brilliant during testing. I use this rig or prsentation 75 80% of the time, the only exception being flooded conditions and very clear, shallow water conditions instead using long braided hook lengths and smaller hooks on a running feeder or bomb rig, but the set-up is practically the same apart from your braid to hook as a knotless knot would be needed for the hair-rig.

I tend to think that during flooded waters its very difficult to keep the pop up sitting naturally instead it would be pulled down by the current. In hot and clear weather in shallow water I prefer to use small pellets 4mm glued together on a hair-rig or a small bag of hemp in some Arma-mesh from fox it tends to pick up the Barbel when theyre spooking on other baits.

You have to remember that once Barbel are used to being caught in that same spot on the same bait they will be pressured and will spook on that bait more often so it pays to use something else. Although if you moved up river and used the same bait with the same free offerings these Barbel will move upstream towards your bait, this could be some 80 yds away, why? Well they are used to being caught in a certain area so will be cautious when approaching bait and free offerings but further upstream these fish do not sense a red flag and will feed freely, being on their patrol route helps. Too much pressure in one spot can really put the big ones off and as they are generally stupid fish they are not that stupid, they wont constantly hang themselves in the same spot, on the same bait, time and time again.

Try and get in spots no one else fishes if they are pressured, try and get them to come up to the bait by constant feeding in a different spot some way upstream and being on their feeding or patrol route helps with this.

I think that about sums up my rigs and methods. To catch these Barbel you will find that changing to this presentation will improve your catch rate tenfold and I have detailed why this is, try it and see for yourself and then come back and tell me you have been reverted to using pop-ups and injecting Lobworms with air, lol. You will find the same answers I have over many years of testing and I wish you all luck with that.

In Part 3 of 5 I will be detailing and explaining how to Target Barbel in flooded Rivers and I look forward to your responses on that as believe it or not the Barbel act totally different in floods. I look forward to hearing what you think on this article also. I also hope you put what I have said and explained to good use and you begin to catch more Barbel generally, as well as putting doubles on the bank ultimately, of that I am sure you will.

Thank you for reading again and I look forward to writing my findings on Flooded Rivers.

I will explain more on this new presentation I am working on when more tests are carried out, and post pics of the rig.

Part 3 - Flooded Rivers For Barbel

In this part I will be talking about flooded rivers in general, whether that is a summer or indeed a winter flood, both in my opinion are conducive to Barbel. We have already spoke in great detail about how fish behaviour dictates what rigs and methods we use but Flooded rivers can be a exciting and yet often neglected part of Barbel fishing, why I dont know as this is when Barbel really can/do go on the munch. Again location is the key to finding them and not only is it important to know whats in the river and where the underwater features are its also very important when fishing in normal river conditions to look around and know what is around you on the peg. This can be a massive mistake many floodwater Barbel anglers make, not knowing what they are fishing on or over during these conditions, fishing is often done between 2 to 3 rod lengths out due to weed on the line being an issue and usually Barbel are no further out than this. Yes Barbel like a good flow over their heads but they dont want to be wasting energy in the bulk of the flow, preferring instead to wait in a crease and feed on morsels as they pass by, sometimes these morsels can be brought into the river by such flood conditions. Worms, Snails and Slugs can all be deposited into the river which we all know make good Barbel baits. Crucially however these make excellent Flood water baits. I have used these baits to devastating effect in the past and I am sure I will in the future. Of course there is many other baits available that bring very good effective results like meat for example, a lot of anglers prefer this approach and I have supplied myself with eight or so tins in readiness for the floods, but preferring instead to use the Garlic Spam variety out of Morrisons.

I will use Boilies and Pellets the more conventional baits if you like, at times when the rivers are generally warmer. My belief with pellets is that the oil content released in summer river conditions and water temperature, leaks these oils which creates a mass attraction. However putting that same pellet in a Winter river when water temperature is low releases little, if any oil from pellets.

Sometimes Boilies can be a way forward in winter and indeed on a flooded river and will always be in my armoury for such requisite. Boilies still give out scent in flooded and cold water and most importantly for us the anglers, they still catch well in floods.

In regards to tackle flooded rivers you need everything stepped up, in that I mean feeders or leads need to be up to the job to sometimes 8oz in some cases and rods need to reflect this, stepped up 2 t/c rods are sometimes needed, although I get away with 2 t/c on most occasions as youre not really casting more underarm flicking. Some anglers prefer to use back-leads when flood water fishing, me included, I gravitate towards using these simply because it keeps weed to a minimum as your lines are not just under the surface collecting every conceivable object, piece of weed or a dead cow floating past (And yes I have seen it) your line is laying on the bed of the river. I do not favour back leads on a typical range river as they are simply not needed in my opinion. Barbel do not need your line pinned down on the bottom in most conditions, my belief is they spook on line that they can't see and mistakingly touch with their fins (why give them this opportunity?). Also in Rivers there is often stones, boulders(like our rivers and great Barbel swims are) and many more obstructions besides including drop-offs etc. Using a back - lead would defeat a very good purpose and that is to keep your line pinned to the bottom in lakes and ponds where the bottom doesn't fluctuate in depth and is not full of rocks and boulders. Taught line in rivers with a back - lead would go in a straight line as oppose to up and over these snags without one. It definitely highlights a problem in regards of snags and is simply not needed and defeats a good purpose. The purpose to hide line from Barbel is not needed anyway so back - leading in my opionion is wasteful. I have had no one tell me a good enough reason to use back-leads in normal conditions so this is my view. In Floodwater however you will find back-leads invaluable to your fishing. I also tie a small stop knot 20 inches up the line so that most of the weed if collected is done so here and not at my terminal tackle end to spoil presentation or masking the hook. Weed is a pain in floods but the best time for fishing and when there's less weed are when the river is falling a couple of days after.

Having colour in the water when rivers are like this makes seeing, observing and examining behaviour of how Barbel change their feeding style impossible at times to say the least. I do know that during times of flood you can often find your most productive spot during normal conditions be synonymous with any Barbel or Chub, why? Well my belief is that they move to the most convenient spot that enables them to a) maintain energy and b) where they can readily eat without expanding or exerting themselves too much but they often wont move too far away from these productive areas in normal conditions. However if your already excellent spot ticks a and b then youre likely to have a good place to catch Barbel at any time. Barbel will not often go far from their prime holding spots in normal conditions so three to four feet this way or that could be that difference, the margin can be that small. When rivers heighten so do areas that produce and areas that do not, an often disused cattle drink becomes a haven for Chub and Barbel to rest up or sit on that crease feeding on anything edible passing by. Areas that are devoid of fish during normal water level conditions become prime holding areas. I myself have found numerous areas on the Trent just like this, I know of a certain area on the tidal Trent where the margin is 8ft, thats 8ft of bank that you can still fish when the river is up that high, beneath this holds a very large gravel area that produces masses of fish in floods, I have lost many big ones there up to 16Lbs+ and trust me that doesnt feel good. The reasons for the losses have been due to a number of fundamental errors on my part, having the backwind facility left on when the fish has made a last bid for freedom and tangling me up and one smash up (My fault for only using 8Lb line), gutted is not the word! Of course you learn and move on knowing those mistakes will not happen again as youll be more careful and aware of it next time.

In my experience Barbel will be packed tighter into areas or spots in flooded rivers, meaning you can usually catch a lot more in flooded rivers then you can at any other time from one spot. Barbel will often bunch up into a good productive spot that they are indeed very comfortable with the flow, able to hold stationary (Very important) and have a good natural food source coming down the river. If you find these spots then mark them down on a notepad. (That is what I do) They will often return here time and time again during flooded conditions. Barbel will exhume more energy during flooded rivers then at any other time, why? Well they spend half their time trying to keep stationary in the flow and not moving because of the energy they expel, food that passes past them is not enough to keep Barbel happy so will happily acknowledge any bait that is there for them as long as they dont have to travel too far for it. If your offerings are travelling past Barbel they will be quite happy to sit there and take what is being offered rather than exert more energy getting to the source, especially if your casting in an area thats not productive i.e. too fast or too slow. Barbel will have a proper munch during flooded conditions but location is primary to catching them, bear this in mind when fishing a flood as the only hard part is finding them. Usually however once you have done this if you find one you will find a lot more besides, you could potentially have two or three shoals in one pocket. Inside of bends are generally prolific when in flood as a crease is formed 2 to 3 rod lengths out from the bank, a crease is where the slower water will meet the faster water, inside the bend being the slower and the outside the faster. This would be an ideal place to start. Often anglers become very disillusioned with sport on a flooded river, thinking its too high or I have tried and caught nothing, the reason for this 9 times out of 10 is that they didnt drop on them. Barbel are not spread out all over the river. It is simply not going to happen when you are fishing a big wide river in flood, fish will be in pockets of the river holding many fish at a time. Smaller Rivers would generally fish better all over but again finding creases, inside of bends and staying out the bulk of the torrent would enhance your chances.

You need to become accustomed to water craft and reading the river to know what to look for in flooded rivers, sometimes a likely looking spot is fishless unless you know what your casting over, like I explained earlier if you know the pegs and you know what your casting on top of, it will stand you in very good stead. I mark productive areas that might or might not produce fish in my notepad during normal river levels, and then during the flood I try them one by one until I find a pocket that is producing the fish. Usually this is over gravel and where a crease is formed. You are looking for ultimately a walking pace or a swift walking pace. Reading the river, what boils the surface and such represent are very important elements when flood fishing.

Boiling on the surface replicates some kind of obstruction on the bottom usually this could be boulders and are often snaggy areas to fish so unless you know what youre fishing over try and avoid. Water that boils the opposite way from the flow is like a back eddy and it can be a sure sign that there is some obstruction thats stopping the passage of flow and so it can be a good idea to fish just behind. Like I explained earlier in this article the best areas are where the water runs smooth which can often suggest good clean gravel run in this area. The best way of knowing your river and what areas are worth trying is the very stuff you stand on during normal river conditions so it becomes easy to identify what could be worth a cast or two. A gravel bank is something I will always look out for, weed and rushes are another, and casting behind these features in flood can pay dividends.

Remember that Barbel need to expel energy to stay stationary in a good flow so they will need to feed to keep that energy up, so locate the Barbel and you should fill your boots.

A word of warning however, many people go out flood fishing without thinking of the dangers. Do not attempt to fish areas where part of the banks have fallen in this can mean that the bank is unstable and could collapse underneath you or in areas that look unstable. Make sure your route out is a safe one, rivers can rise very quickly and block your exit out. Try not to fish alone or if you are doing so tell someone when to expect you back and where youre going. Flooded rivers are dangerous places because you simply do not know whether what youre stepping on could be safe underneath or not so do try and stick to walking away from the river edge if possible and only when you are sure approach your fishing spot with caution. Even in a summer flood, you fall in you are not likely to be getting back out. Be safe!

In Part 4, I will be discussing my approach on Float fishing for Barbel, but not in a conventional way that many of you might assume, this is a killer tactic of mine for Barbel and many other specimen river fish including Chub so I look forward to writing this article and hearing your thoughts on my approach.

Part 4 - Float Fishing For Barbel

In this article I look at the benefits of float fishing over the more common feeder/leger fishing for Barbel. I believe many people fish with a feeder or leger purely because they either dont know how to fish a float or theyre just lazy. Whilst I may have indeed given the impression over these articles that I exclusively fish for Barbel with a feeder, this is not always the case. I fish with whatever catches me Barbel. When I have a clear gravel run that oozes fish and I am able to run my float through inch by inch this is my preferred method.

Over the last 4 years of testing I have done various experiments regarding how a bait sits on the bottom, how effective it looks and most importantly how Barbel find it. The answer lay in feeding, it seems surreal that a Barbel would pick up a fake piece of corn suspended if there was no offerings around it, if scent was so important and eyesight was so bad how do they interpret whats edible and whats not and how would they find it? For the most part, Barbel behaviour is full of contradictions. During testing my only explanation is that Barbel often pick up any old rubbish and discard this through their gills and thinking about it is the only way they can inspect something. Barbel often pick up plastic and fake [enter item of fake bait here] to me and through my experiments I only have one real answer to give you and thats Barbel inspect everything and anything, because they cant see that well they distinguish pellets and smelly baits easily but will often pick up plastics too and have no real way of knowing what it is without mouthing it first. This is why feeding is so important and getting the right balance because they're pigs.

Barbel are renowned for their gill feeding (which I believe the Carp are too), often picking up gravel and sand and dispose of anything inedible through their gills, the unique way in which they do this suggests to me that it makes up for other Barbels inadequacies like eyesight. I explained this in Part 1 regarding us, humans that if a man/women is blind they can often hear ten times better than what we can. The way in which Barbel feed makes them eat and eat because of the competitive nature of these fish, and mouth anything that's there on the bed of a river or even in front of them, as this would be the only way in my opinion that Barbel would distinguish food to non food items if no scent was involved. Maybe their sight isn't that bad as we think, who knows?

Its a complex issue and one I may elaborate on further in the future but these tests and the way they feed, searching the bottom scouring for food and hoovering up pellets and hemp made me think about how a bait is best presented to them. Whether that is float or feeder, I believe I have come closer to finding the answers to make me catch whenever and whatever conditions I am faced with in general. Providing of course Barbel are in the swim. If you have read Part 2 then you will realise that a lot of my methods are generally different should we say, than the conventional way of tying rigs or mounting bait. Although the pop up started from that DVD I have found it invaluable to my fishing and one I believe, changed the way I have fished for Barbel since on a feeder or leger.

Float fishing is different entirely however, yes we are presenting a bait naturally skipping along the bottom on a stick float, and yes we hold it back some times to make that bait flutter and it induces takes. We know all this so whats wrong with this approach? Well the surface current whizzes our float along the river, much faster in fact than the bottom flow. The surface current whizzes our float along, much faster than the bottom flow.

Its simple really!

What if we hold back the float in the current? Now your thinking hook and float are travelling at the same speed. Wrong!

This is the mistake made by most novice and inexperienced stick float fishermen. A mistake which ruins their presentation and does not get their bait acting naturally and ultimately ends up in them fishless, then they sequentially go back to tiddler bashing in the margins.

Theyve forgotten the line between float and hook.

Think whats happening beneath the surface. The float is slowed down, the baited hook is down in the slow water at the bottom, but the current still rips at the line between them, causing the line to bow between float and baited hook. Thus causing the hook to lift off the bottom, into the stronger flow above. Thats not what we want at all.

There is ways of addressing these problems with stick floats and of course it catches Barbel and many other species too. I have found however a float presentation that catches more or puts more Barbel in your net and ultimately offers you the kind of presentation you need when Barbel fishing, even in the strongest of flows and the best thing of all you dont have to keep casting out to do it.

Then came the Cralusso 'Surf'!

These floats are quite remarkable and have changed the way I float fish for Barbel forever, I believe. You can literally work your float down the swim at whatever pace you desire and even stop it dead in a fast flow and will not spoil any presentation between float and hook (no bow). The main reason for using these floats is versatility it has over stick floats, you can do so much more with them than you can of any stick float in your box. I have used the Cralusso Torpedo on the pole for big Bream hauls, I have used the Cralusso Rocket for big carp and to the relevance of this article had multiple catches of Barbel using rod and line using the Cralusso Surf. These floats really are amazing that do have to be seen to be believed. They range from 3 to 40gr but there are certainly not any rivers in this country worthy of using one that big. I use between 6 and 8gr which suits the majority of flow and depth on the Trent. This way of float fishing for Barbel is unique in this country, the inventor I believe is Hungarian and until recently little or nobody had ever heard of them. These floats can be put where you want, under overhanging trees, close to a margin etc and stay there. I fish this with a fixed olivette of required weight about 2 inches above the bottom along with a BB either side and 1 or 2 droppers (No.6) on the hook length depending on the flow speed. I will also use hook length of 1 to 3ft depending on flow also, 3ft being used in the strongest flow etc.

I will feed in the same way as I would when stick float fishing, putting 20 to 30 grains of hemp and pellets every three minutes or so while working my swim every two to three minutes by paying out an inch or two of line, thus working the swim and locating the fish all the time. Thats what I love about this method. The main advantage over the feeder is simply that this float method will locate the fish if the Barbel are unwilling to move from their cover i.e. on hot, sunny and clear days you are able to put the float exactly where you want it, it is also much more sensitive than a feeder. Added to this the way of presentation would have been rarely seen by any Barbel so will not spook on the way its presented. What you must have is a constant flow, its no good fishing in a crease with this float you must have that flow to enable the float to work as it should and that flow should be a walking pace to a swift walking pace, or any pace that's consistent. I also use my Barbel 12ft 1.75 t/c rod when using these floats (Bit over gunned but they do the job). I am predominantly fishing close in some 15ft from the bank so the use for a longer rod is not necessary, but for longer range fishing I have a 20ft Maver rod. This can literally hold my float out in the middle of the river, even in a flood and it wont come back in to your own bank like a normal stick float would. I am sure you could find many articles or indeed find out more about the floats if you are interested.

Predominately all my Barbel float work is done via these floats and will be showing you exactly how I fish them and what I catch in Part 5 but for now well move on.

I want to re-emphasize the importance of feeding when float fishing, a lot of mistakes I see anglers making are basic, so basic that its hard to believe they catch anything at all. You must feed every three to four minutes or every run through, little and often. Barbel will feed eventually. I see too many anglers dump 15kg of bait out straight away then wonder why theyve caught nothing, do they think that 15kg will stay on the river bed? I am truly and utterly amazed sometimes by the lack of thought for the fishes welfare sometimes by the minority of anglers. I have been on the tidal Trent many times enjoying my relaxing day, when I turn around to see someone tackling up and getting this massive sack out the car. What they did next was staggering to say the least. They proceeded to dump all of this bait out including 10kg of Boilies and 10kg of Hemp into the river all in at once. One of the blokes came over and asked if I had caught much and then went on to tell me they were there for a few days and he just put 20 Kg of Boilies and Hemp into the river and went on to say he was going to be doing this every day. I told him what that would do to the fish by putting this amount of bait in all at once and he seemed totally ignorant to the fact. Boilies will and do fill Barbel up quicker than say pellets because boilies do not break down as quick and they do take a while to pass through a Barbels system (up to 2 or 3 days). Those anglers are spoiling it for the anglers of tomorrow and either they're oblivious to this fact or they just don't care, personally I think it's the former.

Whilst the minority seem to be totally ignorant to the fishes welfare theres another minority of others that just dont feed at all (this makes up the other quarter). You must keep a steady stream going in and this will bring fish into your swim. I have found that half of the people I have seen or met fish for Barbel or Chub in this way. Then the British way is too blame everyone else but themselves (We all do it if we're honest with ourselves).

Float fishing for Barbel is very exciting and very rewarding, yet get looked at strangely or so much so that I am getting told by anglers that come over for a chat to get on the feeder. I have proved many of them wrong, many, many times because this method is not like any other way of fishing. I can guarantee it would revolutionise Barbel fishing if more people used it. Barbel are not used to being fished for in this way so never feel that anything is abnormal when taking your bait. Barbel are pressured and are wary sometimes because theyve been fished for in the same place, in the same way and caught on the same baits for years. This tactic however is so diverse that baits are changed regular (I use meatballs as a change bait) and the method is so different, that it becomes rare that Barbel have seen or even been caught on it before.

Unfortunately we are slow as British anglers, or people for that matter to cotton on to what works in Europe, and where this method originated in Hungary it has accounted for many, many Barbel. So much so that they exclusively use this method for Barbel on their rivers along with the "Torpedo", and the feeder is seldom used. Maybe because we as people do not like change and we stick to what we are used to and being out our comfort zone is something we dont feel comfortable with, I am guilty of this myself. When I looked at using these floats I was very sceptical at first that it would actually do the job it stated on the packet but after a while of using and getting used to the method I wondered why I hadnt done it earlier. They are a very powerful weapon in my armoury when targeting Barbel and when your peg is right and you have the right flow in front of you this is a killer method.

I will normally plumb up via a pole and get the depth spot on then set-up my rod and line respectively, normally placing my loop on my main line to where the bottom is situated and then attach my hook length of the desired length via the loop-to-loop knot and placing a shot at the top of the hook length to stop it wafting around. The method itself sounds pretty complicated but once you get to grips with it then it will change the way you approach these fast flowing river Barbel for sure.

They will work in all manner of depths and all manner of flow/current scenarios. In part 5, I will be showing you how to get the best from these floats and explaining the set-up in more detail. Float fishing in this way has many, many benefits especially from swims that hardly ever see a float. It is also possible to fish on the pole using a Torpedo also from cralusso and this can be an exciting method also. I have only used it once for Barbel however so dont feel at liberty to speak on the benefits but holding it stationary in strong flows certainly has its reasons to be interested in taking the method and approach further in my fishing and one I will maybe write another article on in the near future.


Now a little of what to expect in the next article:


In Part 5 I intend to fish a stretch on the Trent that has been very productive for me over the past few seasons, the fish I am targeting reside there, which are not only the most difficult spots to find but also the most productive. There is also many visitors to this area also, in this I am not saying all the Barbel get together and say Lets throw a party I am simply saying this area does bring fish in from other parts of the river because of where the casting area is situated and what features are above and below the surface. It will not be somewhere I will disclose on an open forum and pictures will be cropped to not give too much away. I will not disclose somewhere that has been very prolific for me and have every Tom, Dick and Harry turning up and fishing a spot I have worked damn hard to find, thus making it impossible for me to enjoy any more fishing from. This is one of my favourite areas. These sorts of areas are not common and are very thin on the ground on the Trent so I hope you will understand. The reason why its so productive will be explained in Part 5 and here I plan to do all the article stuff during the day and show you the fish I catch and then because I will be night fishing, I will just show you the pics of the fish I caught during the night, if any, lol.

This will be the first segment and Feeder fishing.

The second segment will be at East Bridgford and Float fishing on the Nottingham Anglers book. I will not crop any pictures here as the pegs are pretty much consistent from the weir to the car park I have found. So all this should be compiled within the week of the 15th of August, due to work commitments I certainly wouldnt get out to fish two venues on the same weekend. I will do one on the 7th and one on the 14th of August and will post it all together on the 15th barring any changes. It promises to be an excellent article with lots that you can take from it and put into your own style of fishing and change or refine the way you approach Barbel on a feeder or on a float. As well as this, giving you lots of tips and helpful advice along the way. Look out for Two Days Barbel fishing with Myself.


NOTE: ALL PICS OF MY ARTICLES ARE ON MY BLOG AND PART 5 WILL BE ADDED HERE ONCE COMPLETED. THANKS FOR READING!
 

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,001
No darren i am not a member mate. I used to be then they wanted money or donation and many people then never renewed i was one of them. I am all for helping the forum to keep going hence being a supporter on here. But when little or nothing is done about the idiots that just call you names for asking a question like what i saw what happened to a novice who asked a question you start to think is it really worth it.
 

Barbeel_EU

Regular member
Joined
May 18, 2011
Messages
122
@ Ricky :
I've read the whole story and i'm impressed about the way you got the barbelvirus.
I'm fishing for barbel the last 5 years and also looking, trying, blanking, catching and spend
a whole lot of time at the riverbank to catch barbel.

Great story, it's like i look in a mirror, i'm also crazy to fish on barbel.

Thumbs up and tight lines

GreetZ
Ronald

www.barbeel.eu
 

AlanZ

Regular member
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
175
I have to admit I have been fishing now for 51 years and have never caught a Barbel[:C]
 

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,001
Originally posted by Barbeel_EU

@ Ricky :
I've read the whole story and i'm impressed about the way you got the barbelvirus.
I'm fishing for barbel the last 5 years and also looking, trying, blanking, catching and spend
a whole lot of time at the riverbank to catch barbel.

Great story, it's like i look in a mirror, i'm also crazy to fish on barbel.

Thumbs up and tight lines

GreetZ
Ronald

www.barbeel.eu

Thanks your comments are much appreciated!

Ricky
 

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,001
Originally posted by AlanZ

I have to admit I have been fishing now for 51 years and have never caught a Barbel[:C]

Keep trying mate you'll get there, maybe keep reading my blog you may get some useful tips on how to go about catching them along the way. Good luck.

Ricky
 
Last edited:

peter236uk

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2009
Messages
18
15lb mono for Barbel ??? crazy why anglers use such heavy lines. I fish the severn and the wye plus my local small river heavest line i have used is 7lb. I have never lost a fish through line break. I fished the severn last winter in flood 6lb line no problem had fish upto 10lb in a flooded river.
 

peter236uk

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2009
Messages
18
We are now trotting for barbel and catching alot of big fish we use pins 7lb silstar match straight through tied to 16 red maggots as bait.
 

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,001
15lb line is purely for the snags on my venue. Of course you don't need such heavy lines, but there is also no reason why you shouldn't when fishing near snags etc. Worst thing you could do is risk losing the fish to it and carrying around your hook length etc. I use mainly 15Lb line to a short 10 - 12lb braided hook length absolutely nothing wrong with my set-up for where I fish. Nor is there snything wrong with yours for a snag free area.
 

Barbeel_EU

Regular member
Joined
May 18, 2011
Messages
122
Yeah, why not using a strong mainline when fishing along snags, i use a 7,8kg. dyneema mainline because there are als a lot of sharp rocks on the bottom of the river and i realy don't want to lose a fish and keep the fight as short as possible.
During summer at warm temperatures there is not enough oxigen in the water, then you'll have to keep the fight as short as possible.
It's almost reccomended to use a stronger line
 

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,001
Originally posted by Barbeel_EU

Yeah, why not using a strong mainline when fishing along snags, i use a 7,8kg. dyneema mainline because there are als a lot of sharp rocks on the bottom of the river and i realy don't want to lose a fish and keep the fight as short as possible.
During summer at warm temperatures there is not enough oxigen in the water, then you'll have to keep the fight as short as possible.
It's almost reccomended to use a stronger line

Spot on mate, I also forgot to include that bit.
 

Ricky24

Rich
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,001
New Article "Winter Barbel Fishing On Large Rivers" - http://myquestforbarbel.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/winter-barbel-fishing-on-large-rivers/ READ HERE!!!!
 

banksy

Life Member
Site Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2003
Messages
12,739
Originally posted by GregKMP

hi guys. do you know any good spots in north/west yorkshire where i could cath barbel? cheers

Bit late replying, but you can catch barbel at Fawdington on the Swale.
Used to get day tickets from the tackle shop in Boroughbridge.
 
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